Cast: James Mason, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack, Kathleen Ryan, F.J. McCormick
Oscar Nominations: Best Film Editing (Fergus McDonell)
SUMMARY: Johnny McQueen (James Mason) is the leader of an anti-government organization (clearly supposed to be the IRA, though this is never explicitly stated) who has been hiding out for six months after escaping from prison. He has been staying with Kathleen Sullivan (Kathleen Ryan) and her elderly grandmother; during his stay Kathleen has fallen in love with Johnny. The organization has decided that Johnny is ready to return to action, and tell him to rob a mill of its payroll funds. Johnny is confident in his plan for the operation, but his men are hesitant: they don’t think Johnny is fit for the job, physically or mentally. He has recently started to voice the opinion that violence might not be the best way to communicate their issues, to their dismay. Just before the robbery, Dennis offers to take his place, but Johnny refuses. Johnny, Nolan and Murphy are in charge of entering the mill and taking the money, while Pat (Cyril Cusack) waits in the getaway car. Everything goes well until the men are leaving the building, when Johnny is stopped by the cashier. The man shoots Johnny in the shoulder, who responds by killing him. Pat takes off before Nolan and Murphy can fully get Johnny into the car, and Johnny falls out. The three men in the car start to debate what to do, only to see Johnny get up and run away. Johnny finds safety in a former air raid shelter, but collapses when he gets there. The other members of the group set out to find him: Pat, Nolan and Murphy all go out together. By this time, the police are out in force, and the three men catch their attention. The men escape, but decide to lay low for a while. Pat and Nolan go to Theresa O’Brien’s house, while Murphy goes elsewhere. Theresa betrays them and calls the police; when Pat and Nolan start shooting, they are shot and killed.
Meanwhile, Dennis actually manages to find Johnny. He arranges an escape with himself as the bait for the police, but is also killed. Johnny leaves the shelter and heads for Kathleen’s house, but has lost so much blood that he collapses in the middle of the street. Two women see him, and believing he has been hit by a car, take him into the house and bandage his wounds. They quickly realize who Johnny is; he leaves to protect them. He finds an empty cab and climbs inside: the driver, not realizing somebody is in the cab, unwittingly carries him past the police. When the driver realizes who he has in his cab, he leaves him in a rail yard. There, he is found by Shell (F.J. McCormick), who also realizes his identity. He tries to trade Johnny to Father Tom, a priest, in exchange for a reward. Shell returns briefly to his house, where he is accosted by his crazy painter roommate, Lukey. Meanwhile, Johnny has regained consciousness and stumbles into a bar, where he is eventually found by both Shell and Lukey (who have come separately). Lukey takes Johnny back to the house in order to paint him; there, he also receives medical care from failed medical student/third roommate Tober. As this is happening, Kathleen has grown tired of waiting for something to happen and has left her house. She goes to visit Father Tom, and also arranges ship passage for Johnny, so he can escape. Shell finally gets Johnny out of the house and headed towards the church, and runs into Kathleen. Together, Johnny and Kathleen head for the dock, but the police are on their tail and Johnny is too weak. Kathleen takes out a pistol and shoots Johnny and then herself.
MY TAKE: I’m kind of ambivalent about this movie: it didn’t evoke really strong feelings in me either way. I got a little tired of Johnny stumbling around for two hours. You would think that somebody who is leading a cell of the IRA would know how to do a basic dress for a bullet wound. You would also think that he would know where to go for help should something like that happen. Personally, on a couple of occasions I wanted to tell him to suck it up and get home. I’ve never had a gunshot wound to my shoulder, so I don’t know what it feels like, but it seems like in most other movies people manage to deal with such wounds long enough to get out of harm’s way. It just doesn’t seem very tough for an IRA leader. Of course, the others didn’t seem particularly adept either: they let the people at the mill see their faces, and the alarm started ringing the second they stepped out of the office. Furthermore, the cops clearly know that they were all hanging out at Kathleen’s house. Basically every member of the group manages to get themselves shot, most of them at night. Not very awe-inspiring. There was some pretty good tension, as there were a bunch of near-misses, both for Johnny finding safety and the police finding Johnny. It made me think of the advice I was given as a kid: if you get lost, stay in one place and let the rescuer find you. Had Johnny done this, Shell or Kathleen could have found him a lot easier; then again, it would also have been easier for the police to find him. It wasn’t a bad movie, but I wouldn’t write home about it either.